Chinese-American Mandala

MAY 2000 / ANACORTES, WA, USA / Bailey Cunningham

Creating a
Chinese-American Mandala

This workshop was created for three 5th grade classes at Mt. Erie Elementary School in Anacortes, Washington, USA. Since China is the school theme for this year, teachers Richard Mitlyng, Kay Starkovich and Missy Walsh-Smith requested that the workshop reinforce their lessons about Chinese culture.

The Objective

  • To present the general concept of a mandala
  • To learn compare and contrast Chinese and American cultures
  • To create a mandala illustrating both differences and similarities of each culture

The Workshop

The workshops consisted of three sessions, 1.5 hours each.

Day 1: Presentation of the Mandala (page to come describing the general workshop presentation).

After the general presentation, students participated in a "warm-up" exercise by coloring in 4" mandalas (See Mandala Quilt) which became part of a collective quilt comprised of mandalas from all three classes.

Day 2: Presentation of Chinese culture which included overhead projector visuals and "props" such as Tibetan prayer flags, paper dragons etc. Students chose symbols and illustrations to represent four aspects of both American and Chinese culture:

  • Symbols (animals, flags, etc.
  • Culture (food, lifestyle, etc)
  • Architecture (buildings, monuments, etc.)
  • People (heroes/heroins, entertainers, etc.)

The center of the mandala was to contain illustrations of things each country had in common. Students began illustrating their mandalas.

Day 3: We discussed similarities between our cultures and completed the mandalas.

The Results

Students were presented with an abundance of information and visuals to illustrate both the similarities and differences between Chinese and American cultures.

They used organizational skills to synthesize and categorize the information they learned in order to place into specific sections of the mandala. The information learned in the presentation was reinforced kinesthetically as the students used their creative skills to illustrated the symbol and create a balanced design.

See the mandalas!

Click to see enlarged view along with the student's text describing the workshop.

These mandalas are from two of three classes... the third class will be mounted shortly, so check back!
It's fun to see how creative the students are with both their illustrations and writing.